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New 'Charter of Commitments' demands parliamentary candidates uphold migrant rights and stand against racism
3.4.19
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A 'Charter of Commitments' calls on candidates in May's European Parliament elections to commit to upholding migrants' rights, promoting a culture of reception and opposing racism and intolerance.

The Charter was drawn up by members of organisations and groups from Italy and beyond working on issues of migration, integration and anti-racism, and states that:

"The militarisation that has been deployed even at Europe's internal borders by building walls, making border controls harsher in frantic fashion and criminalising people who help refugees who seek to exercise their own inalienable right to move, produces a rhetoric of invasion that activates mechanisms of racist categorisation and nationalistic claims."

It calls for EU and national migration policies to be de-linked from political rhetoric about crime and security, highlighting the need to promote decent work as a method of integration for newly-arrived migrants and proposes "general investment plans for the purpose of promoting employment, and to definitively set aside austerity policies that have proved a failure."

Such plans, says the Charter, "are entirely justified by the need to speed up the fight against climate change in every field, through a wholesale environmental conversion of the productive system."

It also underlines the importance of education, healthcare and housing for both migrants and "natives" and calls on prospective MEPs to back efforts that will pave the way for "the creation of a network of solidarity," within Europe but also "capable of gradually extending to all the countries from which migrations originate."

It also calls on those standing for election to:

"commit to participate in struggles to create safe and legal routes of passage, to plan a European search and rescue mission in concertation with NGOs, to enact credible refugee redistribution plans which consider people's needs and wishes, where possible, a reform of the asylum system, a radical review of the Dublin Regulation to restore freedom of movement and the Schengen area, policies of genuine cooperation with third countries, democratic control over the EU's agencies, mechanisms for transparency and the strengthening of the European Ombudsman's role."

The Charter of Commitments is in part a response to long-standing EU policies that have been accelerated and exacerbated by the 2015 European Agenda on Migration.

The Charter suggests that these policies - such as proposals to water down safeguards in the 2008 Returns Directive in order to restore the "credibility" of the EU's return system - have subordinated migrants' rights to effective migration control and border management.

At the same time as rights have been diminished within the EU, there has been a renewed attempt to support the border control capabilities of authoritarian regimes in north and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Charter notes the "direct and indirect pressure exerted by European countries, led by Germany and Italy, to compel the countries which look onto the Mediterranean like Tunisia to host extra-European places of detention."

The Charter of Commitments draws the link between the immigration policy field and the authoritarian practices and ideologies that may well be the most serious 'threat' or 'risk' facing the EU.

The text of the Charter is available here (pdf). The original version (in Italian) is on the website of Osservatorio Solidarietà della Carta di Milano.

Organisations and individuals wanting to sign the Charter should contact: cartamilanosolidarieta [at] gmail.com

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